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Rockland County, New York

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Rockland County, New York

Rockland County, New York
View from Buckberg Mountain towards the Hudson River.
Flag of Rockland County, New York
Seal of Rockland County, New York
Map of New York highlighting Rockland County
Location in the state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
Founded 1798
Seat New City
Largest community New City
 • Total 199 sq mi (515 km2)
 • Land 174 sq mi (451 km2)
 • Water 25 sq mi (65 km2), 12.60%
 • (2010) 311,687
 • Density 1,790/sq mi (691.1/km²)
Congressional district 17th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website .us.ny.rockland.cowww

Rockland County is a suburban county in the U.S. state of New York, in the New York City Metropolitan Area. The county's population, as of the 2010 census, was 311,687, increasing by 3.0% to a 2013 Census estimate of 320,903.[1] The county seat is New City.[2] The name derives from "rocky land", as the area was described by early Dutch and English settlers. Located 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Manhattan, Rockland County is the smallest county by area in New York State outside of New York City.

The county comprises five towns and nineteen incorporated villages, with numerous unincorporated villages (sixteen) and hamlets. Rockland County is designated as a Preserve America Community, and roughly one-third of the county is parkland. The county has the largest Jewish population per capita of any U.S. county, with 31.4%, or 90,000 residents, being Jewish. Rockland also ranks 9th on the list of highest-income counties by median household income in the United States with $75,306 according to the 2000 census.


Henry Hudson's Halve Maen (Half Moon) on the Hudson River.
The Carson McCullers House in South Nyack.
DeWint House (circa 1700) is the oldest home in Rockland County
Histroric Rockland County Courthouse in New City

The area that would become Rockland County was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Indians, including Munsees, or Lenni Lenape.

In 1609, Henry Hudson, thinking he had found the legendary "Northwest Passage", sailed on the Half Moon up the river that would one day bear his name and anchored near the area that is now Haverstraw before continuing to disillusionment north of Albany. The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in the area, around 1675.[3] These settlers, eager to escape "city life", moved from Manhattan to Rockland. A number of unique Dutch-style red sandstone houses still stand, and many place names in the county reveal their Dutch origin. When the Duke of York (who became King James II of England) established the first twelve counties of New York in 1683, present-day Rockland County was part of Orange County. Orangetown was created at the same time under a royal grant, originally encompassing all of modern Rockland County. Around this time, as the English began to colonize Nyack and Tappan, the Native Americans began to leave Rockland in search of undisturbed land further north.[3]

The natural barrier of the Ramapo Mountains and the size of the county made it difficult to carry out governmental activities. At one point there were twin governments, one on each side of the Ramapo Mountains. For this reason, Rockland split off from Orange in 1798 to form its own county. That same year the county seat was transferred from Tappan to New City, where a new courthouse was built.

Haverstraw was separated from Orangetown in 1719 and became a town in 1788; it included the present-day Clarkstown, Ramapo and Stony Point. Clarkstown and Ramapo became towns in 1791, followed by Stony Point in 1865.

The territory of the Lenape in present-day southern New York, New Jersey and eastern sections of Delaware and Pennsylvania

During the Suffern. British Major John André met with American traitor Benedict Arnold near Stony Point to buy the plans for the fortifications at West Point. André was captured with the plans in Tarrytown on his way back to the British lines; he was brought to Tappan for trial in the Tappan church, found guilty, hanged and buried nearby. Still another important chapter in the story of the Revolution was written on May 5, 1783, when General Washington received Sir Guy Carleton at the DeWint House, where they discussed the terms of the peace treaty. Two days later Washington visited Sir Guy aboard a British war vessel. On this day the King's Navy fired its first salute to the flag of the United States of America.

In the decades following the Revolution, Rockland became popular for its stone and bricks. These products, however, required quarrying in land that many later believed should be set aside as a preserve. Many unsuccessful efforts were made to turn much of the Hudson Highlands on the northern tip of the county into a forest preserve. However, Union Pacific Railroad president E. H. Harriman donated land as well as large sums of money for the purchase of properties in the area of Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain/Harriman State Park became a reality in 1910, and by 1914 it was estimated that more than a million people a year were coming to the park.

Rockland remained semi-rural until the 1950s when the Palisades Interstate Parkway, Tappan Zee Bridge, and other major arteries were built. The idea of suburbia also helped transform the county. The county's population flourished, from 89,276 in 1950 to 265,475 in 1990.

Ramapo Torne in Harriman State Park, part of the Ramapo Mountains.


Overlooking Rockland County with NYC Skyline in far background

Rockland County lies just north of the New Jersey-New York border, west of Westchester County across the Hudson River, and south of Orange County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 199 square miles (516 km²), of which 174 square miles (451 km²) is land and 25 square miles (65 km²) (12.60%) is water.[4] It is the smallest county in the state outside of New York City. The county's elevations range from 1,283 feet (391 m) atop Rockhouse Mountain to sea level along the Hudson River. Approximately 30% of Rockland County is devoted to parkland, belonging to either the five towns, incorporated villages, the state, or the county. These parks provide walking and hiking trails, ballfields, dog runs, historic sites, ponds, streams, salt marshes, and equestrian trails. Some popular state parks include Bear Mountain State Park on the northernmost tip of the county, Harriman State Park also along the county's northern boundary, and Nyack Beach State Park along the Hudson River, with trails connecting to Rockland Lake State Park. In addition to parks, Rockland is home to several of the most beautiful public and private golf courses in the metro area, with the towns of Orangetown, Ramapo, Stony Point, and Haverstraw all operating public golf courses within their towns, offering discounted rates to their respective residents. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission also operates two golf courses in Rockland Lake State Park with sweeping views of the park. Notable private courses in the county include Dellwood Country Club, Manhattan Woods Golf Course (designed by PGA great Gary Player), Minisceongo Golf Club (Ramapo), and Rockland Country Club (Sparkill).

Adjacent counties

Rockland's borders with Putnam and Passaic counties are short, totaling less than one mile (1.6 km).


As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 286,753 people, 92,675 households, and 70,989 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,646 people per square mile (636/km²). There were 94,973 housing units at an average density of 545 per square mile (210/km²). However, residents live closer together than the census numbers indicate, as 30% of the county is reserved as parkland. 9% of residents reported speaking Spanish at home, 5% Yiddish, 3% French-based creole, 1.5% Italian, 1.3% Tagalog, 1.3% Hebrew, 1.2% French, and 1% Russian. Other languages spoken at home by at least 1000 people include Malayalam, Korean, Chinese, German, and Polish.

Racial demographics of Rockland according to 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data:[7]
Rockland County Demographics
Race Percentage
White 78% (Whites of non-Hispanic origin: 65%)
Black 13%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons 0.5%
Asian 7%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander persons 0.1%
Multiracial 2%
Hispanics and Latinos (of any race) 16%

In 2000, there were 92,675 households out of which 38% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63% were married couples living together, 10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23% were non-families. 19% of all households were made up of individuals and 8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3 and the average family size was 3.5.

In the county the population was spread out with 28% under the age of 18, 8% from 18 to 24, 28% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 12% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 women there were 95 men. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 91 men.

The median income for a household in the county was $68,000 and the median income for a family was $80,000. Males had a median income of $58,000 versus $39,000 for females. The per capita income for the county was $28,000. The mean, or average, income for a family in Rockland County is $73,500 according to the 2004 census. About 6% of families and 10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14% of those under age 18 and 8% of those age 65 or over.

Haverstraw along the Hudson River


County map, with town and village boundaries

Paul W. Adler, the chairperson of the Rockland County's Jewish Community Relations Council, said in a 1997 New York Times article that "There are two reasons villages get formed in Rockland. One is to keep the Hasidim out and the other is to keep the Hasidim in."[8]

There are five towns in Rockland County. The most populous is Ramapo, with 126,595 people, while the least populous is Stony Point, with 15,059 people. Clarkstown has 84,187, Orangetown has 49,212 and Haverstraw has 36,634, for a total population of 311,687 people, according to the 2010 US Census.

In 2010 named Clarkstown the 41st best small "city" to live in America, which was the highest such ranking in New York.[9]

There are nineteen incorporated villages in Rockland County, twelve of which are located at least partially in the town of Ramapo, and none of which are in Stony Point:
Rockland County also has a number of unincorporated hamlets, including:

According to the 2010 census, these nine Rockland communities have a population exceeding 10,000 people:

Rockland County Neighborhoods
Neighborhood Population
Haverstraw Village
New City
Pearl River
Spring Valley
Stony Point
West Haverstraw


The county is home to several Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award winners, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.

  • In 2000–2001, Liberty Elementary School in Valley Cottage (semi-finalists in 2004)
  • In 2007, Strawtown Elementary School in West Nyack
  • In 2008, Franklin Avenue Elementary School in Pearl River
  • In 2009, George W. Miller Elementary School in Nanuet
  • In 2011, Pearl River Middle School in Pearl River
  • In 2013, Cherry Lane Elementary School in Suffern

Colleges and universities

The county is home to several colleges and universities, including Nyack College, St. Thomas Aquinas College, Rockland Community College, Long Island University, Dominican College, Columbia University's Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, and others.

High schools

School districts


The Tappan Zee Bridge connects South Nyack in Rockland County and Tarrytown in Westchester County across the Hudson River in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York State. Federal and state authorities are currently planning a $4 billion Tappan Zee replacement bridge.[10]


CR 1

The county is served by several major highways, including Garden State Parkway, opened in 1955, connecting New Jersey to I-87/287.

The highways in Rockland County are:

For further information


Transport of Rockland Hybrid Electric Bus

The Transport of Rockland operates several local bus routes throughout the county, as well as an express bus route to Tarrytown and White Plains in Westchester County. TOR provides connections to other neighborhood bus operations – Minitrans[11] and connections to commuter lines, Rockland Coaches and Short Line providing service to northern New Jersey and New York City.

Transportation map


New Jersey Transit/Metro-North Railroad operates the Port Jervis Line, which stops at the Suffern Railroad Station, and the Pascack Valley Line, whose stops include Pearl River, Nanuet and Spring Valley in their respective hamlets and village of the same name. Connections on this line are available at Secaucus for service to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan and service to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The southern terminus of both lines is Hoboken Terminal, where connections can be made to several NJ Transit bus lines, ferries, and PATH trains to the city.


NY Waterway operates a ferry service between Haverstraw and Ossining in Westchester County for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Commuters are able to take the Transport of Rockland's Ferry Express route to the Haverstraw ferry terminal for service to Metro-North's Hudson Line service to Grand Central Terminal. Ferry service is typically suspended in the colder months when the Hudson freezes over, and commuters must take shuttle buses across the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Airports near Rockland County

Roads in New York counties

Law, government and politics

United States House of Representatives

All of Rockland County falls within the 17th Congressional District, along with central and western Westchester County and is represented by Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey.

New York State politicians

The county of Rockland is represented in the New York State Senate by David Carlucci (D) of the 38th district and William Larkin (R) of the 39th district.

Rockland County Assemblymen & Women
NYS Assembly
Kenneth Zebrowski, Jr.
94th District
Ellen C. Jaffee
97th District

County politicians

The head of Rockland County is the county executive, Ed Day, a Republican elected in 2013. The previous county executive was Republican C. Scott Vanderhoef, who was re-elected in 2009 to his fifth four-year term. Day is the third county executive in Rockland history, with Vanderhoef having defeated the incumbent, John T. Grant (D), in 1993. Prior to 1985, Rockland County did not have a county executive.

The county is divided into 17 single-member legislative districts. There are 12 Democrats and 5 Republicans. The Chairman of the Legislature is Alden H. Wolfe. The other legislators are:

Legislative District Maps

Rockland County District Legislatures
District Legislator Party Area Represented
Douglas J. Jobson Republican Stony Point
Michael M. Grant Democrat West Haverstraw
Jay Hood Jr. Vice Chairman Democrat Haverstraw
Ilan S. Schoenberger Democrat Wesley Hills
Barry Kantrowitz Democrat New City
Alden H. Wolfe Chairman Democrat Suffern
Philip Soskin Democrat Monsey
Toney L. Earl Deputy Majority Leader Democrat Hillcrest
Christopher Carey Minority Leader Republican Bardonia
Harriet D. Cornell Democrat West Nyack
Frank Sparaco Deputy Minority Leader Republican Valley Cottage
Joseph L. Meyers Democrat Airmont
Aron B. Wieder Majority Leader Democrat Monsey
Aney Paul Democrat Nanuet
Patrick J. Moroney Republican Pearl River
John A. Murphy Republican Pearl River
Nancy Low-Hogan Democrat South Nyack

Law enforcement

The county is served by ten town and village police departments in addition to the county's Sheriff's Police Division. The ten town and village departments are responsible for incidents occurring in their respective municipalities, while the county sheriff responds to incidents countywide. The County Sheriff provides most of the specialized divisions: Marine, aviation, mounted, crime scene, bomb unit, arson, computer crimes as well as drug, arson and bomb K9 as per a memorandum of agreement between local departments.

Town governments

The five towns of Rockland County are led by Town Supervisors and Town Boards. The villages encompassed in the towns are led by Mayors and Village Trustees.

Rockland County Town Supervisors
Alexander Gromack
Howard T. Phillips, Jr.
Andrew Stewart
Christopher P. St. Lawrence
Stony Point
Geoffrey Finn

County courts

There are three types of general trial courts in Rockland County: the New York Supreme Court, the County Court and the Justice Courts. The Supreme Court is the trial level court of the New York State Unified Court System, which presents some confusion as the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeals in the federal system as well as in most states (the Court of Appeals is the highest court in New York State). The Supreme Court has broad authority over all categories of cases, both civil and criminal. Generally the Supreme Court in Rockland County hears civil cases involving claims in excess of $25,000. While the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over criminal cases in most counties this is handled by the County Courts. In Rockland however, the Supreme Court does exercise jurisdiction over some criminal cases.

The County Court is inferior to the Supreme Court and is authorized to hear all criminal cases that have occurred in the county as well as limited jurisdiction over civil cases. The County Court handles felony cases exclusively and shares jurisdiction with the town and village justice courts on misdemeanor cases and other minor offenses and violations. The County Court's jurisdiction on civil cases is limited to those involving less than $25,000.

Each of the towns and fifteen of the villages have Justice Courts. These courts mostly hear routine traffic ticket cases, especially from the New York State Thruway and the Palisades Interstate Parkway. They also handle drunk driving charges, lower-level criminal misdemeanor matters, and they will occasionally perform arraignment on felonies (most felony proceedings are heard in County Court). These courts generally handle the highest volume of cases, which, considering the population density and highways in the county, is not surprising.


Provident Bank Park, home of Rockland Boulders


  • The Journal News
  • Our Town
  • WRCR AM 1300
  • Left of the Hudson
  • Rockland World Radio
  • Nyack News and Views
  • Rockland County Times
  • Rockland Review
  • The Hook
  • Rockland County's Best Magazine
  • Clipper



According to, which integrates data from different sources including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2002, Rockland County ranked among the worst 10% in the United States in terms of air releases.[12] Recent EPA statistics show that a total of 66 facilities active today in Rockland County are currently regulated.[13] In Scorecard's list of Top 10 polluters from 2002, the Lovett generating station, located in Tompkins Cove, is the top polluter, releasing 1,523,339 pounds of toxic emissions into the air.[14] Two studies, one in 2000 and the other in 2004, were issued by the Clean Air Task Force to study the impacts of power plant emissions in the United States. Data specific for Rockland county shows that a total of $2,150,800 was paid in compensation for numerous illnesses caused by power plant pollution, including asthma attacks, heart attacks and death.[15]Prior to 2014 the Lovett generating station was closed and dismantled. It no longer exists.

Solar Field

Clarkstown is building a first-of-its-kind in New York State, a 2.3 megawatt solar system consisting of about 4,300 panels on top of a closed, highly regulated, flat shade less 13 acre section of the former garbage landfill in West Nyack which will generate 3 million-kilowatt hours - enough power to supply about 200 homes, that will cover about one-third of the electric needs of the Town of Clarkstown government. The Clarkstown solar field project is at the maximum size that is currently allowed by New York State. Of the 1,200 installations in Orange and Rockland system, 450 or 32 percent are in Rockland County and will save taxpayers as much as $4 million over 30 years by reducing the amount of the town’s annual electric bill – which is about $2 million and produce 10 percent of all the electricity that O&R gets through solar power. This project is schedule to be online by the Fall of 2014.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ a b "County of Rockland, New York :: Home". Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  7. ^ "Rockland County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  8. ^ Berger, Joseph. "Growing Pains for a Rural Hasidic Enclave." The New York Times. January 13, 1997.
  9. ^ "'"Amherst in top 50 of 'Best Places to Live.  
  10. ^ Khurram Saeed and Theresa Juva-Brown (2012-12-17). "It's official: State picks builder for new Tappan Zee Bridge". Copyright © 2012 All rights reserved. Retrieved 2013-01-09. 
  11. ^ "Minitrans". Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  12. ^ "Rockland County’s general pollution report card". 2003-10-28. Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  13. ^ "Envirofacts Rockland county data sheet". 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  14. ^ "Scorecard’s Top ten polluters". Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  15. ^ "Clean Air Task Force interactive map". 1979-01-01. Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  16. ^ "Clarkstown Turns Old Landfill Into Solar Energy Field". 2014-07-08. 

External links

  • Rockland County official website
  • The Historical Society of Rockland County
  • Journal-News Rockland
  • weekly newspaperRockland Review
  • Rockland Boulders baseball
  • Knickerbocker Ice Festival
  • Rockland County at DMOZ
  • Hudson Valley Directory, listings pertaining to Rockland County, New York

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